On Sunday, December 15, 2019, it will be five years since a broad-shouldered, bearded man, walked into a Lindt Cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place.
At first, no one noticed him. Waitress Fiona Ma took his order of a chocolate cheesecake just after 8:30am, but when she later returned, he asked that he move tables. He wanted to sit near the back of the cafe, he explained, so Fiona showed him to table 40, an L-shaped booth tucked into an alcove.
Twenty minutes later, Fiona was called over once again, and this time, the man had a strange request. He wanted the manager’s name, and to speak to him. It was odd, staff thought, because he had hardly touched his food. What could be the problem?
Only moments later, a regular customer named Rosemary Blirt attempted to enter the cafe, but noticed the doors were locked.
Watch: Footage from the Sydney Siege. Post continues below.
Confused, she walked around to the Martin Place entrance, and realised that, again, the doors were locked. That’s when she saw the face of Tori Johnson, the manager of the Lindt Cafe, who was speaking carefully to a dark-haired, bearded man holding a backpack.
His expression told her everything she needed to know. Something was very wrong.
What took place over the next 17 hours has imprinted itself on the Australian psyche. Eighteen men and women were held hostage by a man holding a shotgun claiming to have a bomb in his backpack.
For 16 of those hostages, the Sydney Siege was a defining day in their lives.
But for two of them, 34-year-old Tori Johnson and 38-year-old Katrina Dawson, the Lindt Cafe would be where they spent their final hours.
And five years on, Australia pledges never to forget them.
Here are the people and places that accompany True Crime Conversations, The Sydney Siege: Part One.
For more from our guest, Deborah Snow, you can buy her book Siege online here, or at any good bookstores.